What is a putty knife used for

What is a putty knife used for?

Putty knives are the backbone of any drywaller’s toolbox, and they are an essential tool. However, putty knives are the most versatile tool in your repertoire. Putty knives apply filler materials creating a tight structural seal, and such material includes drywall compound and spackle. Yet, this isn’t the other application for putty knives.

Different types of putty knives

There are many different types of putty knives that are used among many different kinds of professions. Here are the ones we will be discussing today.

Standard Putty Knives

Standard putty knives are available in sizes between 3 – 10 inches. These knives have the shape you are most familiar with for the putty knife. The knife’s blade is curved on both sides until it meets a straight edge of the blade.

Taping Knives

Taping knives, otherwise known as joint knives, come in sizes between 8 – 14 inches. These take a more expansive rectangular shape ideal for applying joint compound on the drywall and allowing you to cover drywall tape with a wider diameter. 


The multi-tool is a specific putty knife that looks the most unique among the different types of putty knives. This tool has a chiselled edge and is designed specifically for cleaning paint rollers and scraping the material.

Bucket Scoop

A bucket scoop isn’t specifically a putty knife; however, grouped with other hand tools—this specific tool scoops out compounds from buckets into pans and other containers.

What Can I Use A Putty Knife For?

What makes the putty knife such a useful tool is how versatile it is. We will go over 10 uses of what you can use a putty knife for. 

  1. Drywall Finishing
  2. Scrape Away Wallpaper
  3. Hide Nail Holes
  4. Patch Small Cracks
  5. Applying Putty To Windows
  6. Remove and Reuse Baseboards
  7. Remove Caulking
  8. Flipping Burgers
  9. Clean Your Grill
  10. Scrape Off Debris

1. Drywall Finishing

The most popular use of a putty knife is applying joint compound on drywall compound. Drywall tapers have two choices when it comes to drywall taping. One uses automatic taping tools, increasing productivity and speeding up the taping process. The other option is to use hand tools, including trowels and hawks, putty knives, and mud pans.

2. Scrape Away Wallpaper

Wallpaper is becoming less and less common in North America. Using a putty knife to remove wallpaper is an easy process. First, find the edge of the wallpaper, then start to scrape it off. Once it is all scraped off, it is time to begin putting up new wallpaper or painting your walls.

3. Hide Nail Holes and Patch Small Cracks

If you have nail spots that need covering, there are two options for covering those nails. The first is using a dedicated tool called a nail spotter, and this tool is designed to cover nails in the drywall installation process. Nail spotters make covering nails a quick, easy, and painless process. The other option is to use a putty knife.

4. Patch Small Cracks

For simple cracks in your drywall using a putty knife to fix the crack is very simple. Cover the knife in joint compound or spackle, lay it across cracks, and then scrape off any excess mud. 

5. Applying Putty To Windows

Of course, using a putty knife for window putty would be on our list of things to use your putty knife for. You can use your putty knife to scrape away old broken and cracked putty or use it to apply new putty to your windows.

5. Remove and Reuse Baseboards

Baseboards are typically a strip of plastic or wood covers between the floor and walls. If you want to save the baseboard, remove the baseboard with a putty knife carefully. Place the putty knife between the baseboard and the wall and pry the baseboard off the wall, and you are done.

7. Remove Caulking

When replacing old silicone sealant, using a scraper tool is one way to do it. Sharp blades have a risk of damaging your fibreglass bathtub. Instead, you can use a thin layer of caulk remover. After the old layer softens up, use a putty knife to pull off the old caulk.

8. Flipping Burgers

If you live the putty knife lifestyle, you can get creative with your use of the putty knife. A good drywaller always has tools handy. During a barbeque cookout, you can be the hero everyone deserves. Take your 6″ putty knife and flip those burgers.

9. Clean Your Grill

Once you are done grilling with your BBQ, you can also help clean up. Take that putty knife and a wire brush to scrape off any stuck gunk. Not only can you scrape the gunk off of the BBQ.

10 Scrape Off Debris

Putty knives have many different names depending on the region you are in. For instance, if you are in the UK, putty knives are known as scrapper knives, which makes a lot of sense. These tools scrape off debris and materials such as putty for windows. You can also use this knife to scrape off old paint when you are ready for a new paint job or if the old paint starts to peel.

Putty knife alternatives

While putty knives are an incredibly versatile tool, some people prefer using a different tool for drywall finishing. Trowels are also a popular tool to keep around you at all times. If you want to learn more, read our article about putty knives vs trowels.

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